Chicago Sun Times -
Meet At Hollywood Blvd!
Back in the days of the grand movie palaces, your sense of wonderment began long before you were even ushered into a darkened theater. It started when you entered the ornate theater lobby decorated in Chinese or Indian themes. The ambiance helped make going to the movies seem more like a special evening out.
Since it opened 14 months ago, Woodridge's only cinema, bar and eatery, Hollywood Blvd., has strived to be the best movie theater in the world by taking patrons back to the stylized movie houses of yesteryear.
"The fantasy needs to begin the minute you cross the threshold," said Ted Bulthaup, Hollywood Blvd.'s owner. "We want going out to the movies to be an event. The kind of thing where people mention where they saw the film in the same breath as what they saw."
As it turns out, you can go back to the glory days. The lobby area of Bulthaup's theater boasts dragon-wrapped columns; a large, 150-year-old gazebo and door arch imported from India, and terra-cotta warhorses and soldiers reproduced from those found in an architectural dig in China. Also situated in the lobby as well as other places within the complex are Fu Dogs that once guarded temples and now keep watch on moviegoers.
The floor of the lobby has been painted black to resemble asphalt. For an added touch of authenticity, Bulthaup lucked into parking meters that were situated along the real Hollywood Boulevard in California. "The meters were torn up when they were building the Kodak Theater. I happened to hear about it and bought some of them," Bulthaup said. And the best part? At $8, a ticket to a showing at Hollywood Blvd. costs less than you'd pay at most other first-run theaters in the Chicago area. Of course, there is more to a movie theater than just the decorations, no matter how ornate or awe-inspiring they might be.
To try and build the proverbial better mousetrap, Bulthaup's four-screen facility features executive chairs that are spaced in rows that allow plenty of legroom. There aren't any cup holders; instead, you have a table in front of you. The theater offers a full food and beverage service with wait staff serving moviegoers up until the last 20 minutes of their first-run features. There is a one-item minimum per ticket. Yes, you must be 21 to purchase an alcoholic beverage, and yes, they do card religiously.
Whether it's a "Halleberi" Stolichnaya Razberi vodka martini ($8) and the "Titanic Shrimp Cocktail" ($10.95) while watching "Shrek 2"; a Bloody Mary ($5) and the "Whoopi Goldburger" topped with Cheddar, bacon and barbecue sauce accompanying your viewing of "Van Helsing," or a bucket of six beers ($16.95-$20.95) and a "Mystic Pizza" with your choice of toppings ($8.95-$17.96) to nosh while you watch Brad Pitt's bulging biceps in "Troy," Bulthaup is confident there is something on the menu for everyone.
"Whatever you like, we've got some," he said. Of course, no movie-going experience would be complete without popcorn, and it's available here by the bucket for $4.45. The theater doesn't do advance ticket purchases, and Bulthaup recommends patrons show up 40 minutes before the start time to ensure a seat.
Like most theaters, Hollywood Blvd. is hopping on weekends, but also does a decent crowd on Mondays, when buckets of beer are half-price, and on Tuesdays, when half-price pitchers of margaritas are the featured item.
"We don't want this to be just another casual evening out," Bulthaup said. "We want to be the only movie house you'll ever need."